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It’s been eight long years since Alejandro G. Iñárritu last brought a film to Venice. Birdman would, of course, go on to sweep the 2015 Academy Awards (with four wins, including for best film and best director) and help cement Venice’s status as the premier launchpad for awards season glory.
A year later, The Revenant gave the Mexican auteur back-to-back best director Oscars (and land Leonardo DiCaprio his first best actor wins).
Since then, barring a well-received virtual reality short in 2017, the cinema world has been waiting to see what Iñárritu comes up with next. Which is why all eyes are on the Lido for Thursday’s world premiere of Bardo (or, to give it its full titles, Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths), his buzzy feature with Netflix.
For Iñárritu, while Sept. 1 may be the date of Bardo’s world premiere, it’s also an anniversary for himself and his family.
“The 1st of September, 2001, we left Mexico and moved to Los Angeles in the U.S., and when we left our country, we had great plans and great projects,” he said at the press conference ahead of the film’s debut bow. “We thought we were staying there for one year, instead we stayed for 21 years. When a person leaves his or her country, he feels a longing for his country that stays with you every day. Mexico, for me, is a state of mind, not just a country.”
With his anniversary in mind, Bardo is particularly poignant for Iñárritu. As well as being his first film since The Revenant, Bardo also marks his first Mexican feature since his 2000 breakout, Amores Perros, and has already been described by some as the director’s own Roma. The epic (it’s six minutes shy of 3 hours long) comedy charts the homecoming of a famed journalist and documentary maker, and an existential crisis sparked by family relationships, questions of cultural identity and changes to the country of his birth.
“If you stay away from your country for a long time, your state of mind dissolves and changes. That’s what the research for this movie was about,” he said. “When you go back to that country, as I did for this movie, it’s like standing in front of a mirror or meeting an old friend. It was like reinterpreting a dream or a memory.”
However, Iñárritu said that he never set out to write an autobiography. “That was not my objective. The idea of exploring all of these feelings and trying to give them meaning, of discovering and revealing many things about myself and sharing them … this was my objective.”
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